State grants to fund California Creek project


Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2 (BBBPRD2) has received two state grants that will allow the district to buy and conserve 11.5 acres of wildlife habitat at California Creek. 

The grants are from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board, which announced on July 2 that it was awarding more than $126 million in grants to 333 projects across the state. The projects are intended to build and maintain outdoor recreation facilities and conserve wildlife habitat, farms and forests.

“The funding creates more places to play, expands habitat for fish and other wildlife, supports clean air and water, upholds healthy communities across Washington state and improves our quality of life,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director at the Recreation and Conservation Office, which administers the grants.

Of the $126 million awarded statewide, Whatcom County received $3,568,100 for an array of projects in Bellingham, Lummi Nation, Lynden and elsewhere. BBBPRD2 received two grants, one for $299,400 and one for $458,000. Both are focused on the California Creek estuary, which consists of a quarter-mile of estuary shoreline and 500 feet of creek shoreline used by birds, cutthroat trout, chum and coho salmon. 

The coastal inlet provides habitat that is protected from the oncoming waves of adjacent Drayton Harbor, making it ideal for migrating juvenile salmon, shellfish, waterfowl and shorebirds.

BBBPRD2 will be collaborating with the Whatcom Land Trust on the project. According to Ted Morris of the Whatcom Land Trust, the project aims to create a small park in the area, which will include a kayak launch, a restroom, a 20-car parking lot and a half-mile trail. The project would likely be completed in 2021, with construction slated to begin in August or September next year.

In the meantime, Morris said that BBBPRD2 and the land trust will be focused on planning, design and permitting. “It was quite an opportunity to have 11.5, almost 12, acres available at the mouth of a creek going into Puget Sound,” he said.


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